Friday, July 1, 2016

Blog Tour: Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler

It's the beginning of Ashleigh Walker's last year of high school and she isn't looking forward to it. First of all, there's Dylan.  Maybe he's her boyfriend, maybe not.  But when Dylan talks her into having unprotected sex with him, Ash is definitely not happy about it afterward and begins to avoid him.  And then there are her parents. Things are really awkward at home until they finally tell Ash that they are divorcing and her dad moves out.  In no time, he is involved with a woman from work, Elaine, who has a son around the same age as Ash.  And then there is the falling out with her best-friend-since-they- were-eight Cat, only to finally make up when Ash thinks she may be pregnant.

It doesn't look like anything is going well for Ash until she walks into her English class for the first time and meets Miss Murray, fresh out of college, full of enthusiasm and very cool.  Suddenly Ash feels the desire to do well in English, actually reading Wuthering Heights and liking it. When she and Robyn work on a debate together, and win, Miss Murray invites Ash to join the debate club.

Soon. Ash is looking for any excuse to stay after class and talk to Miss Murray.  She is definitely feeling some attraction to her teacher, and Ash is sure that her teacher is feeling some attraction to her.  Instead of focusing on her upcoming A-Level exams and what she is going to do with the rest of her life, or at least, thinking about getting into a university, Ash is thinking about Miss Murray.  Is it just a diversion to get away from dealing with her parents divorce, her dad's new girlfriend, her mother's depression?  Or is there something about Ash that she doesn't know about herself.  Is she gay or is Miss Murray just a schoolgirl's grand pash?  Leave it to best friend Cat to make things clear for her.

I started reading Read Me Like A Book on night and couldn't put it down.  It's Liz Kessler's debut YA novel and, she says, it is not autobiographical, except for some anecdotes and one really great English teacher...oh, yes, and the coming out part.  Ash is a lively, spunky character and tells the reader her story with honesty and sincerity if not always with understanding.

Ashleigh's life has lots drama and angst and makes for a wonderful, sometimes humorous, sometimes confusing, sometimes sad but always exciting novel.  Read Me Like A Book is basically a love story about falling for the wrong person, and for that reason, anyone can relate to it.  That Ash falls for a woman makes it an LGTBQ story that needs to be told, a story about identity and sexual awakening from a gay perspective.  There simply aren't that many good books about young women coming out. and I think that Kessler has done a spot on job of presenting and exploring all of Ash's confused emotions that come with discovering you are not who you thought you were.

While this is a great story, there is also quite a bit of drinking going on.  Of course, in England the drinking age is lower than in the US, so kids 17 can buy beer and wine.  And there's a fair amount of snogging, which anyone who has read Harry Potter knows is just kissing, and only one incidence of shagging (with Dylan).  I say this because a lot of readers know Liz Kessler for her middle grade novels and this should not be mistaken for one of them - it IS a YA novel.      

I just want to thank Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this interesting novel. which I completely enjoyed and for allowing me to participate in this blog tour.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
Be sure to visit all the other stops on the Official Read Me Like A Book Blog Tour:
6/29 Forever YA

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